|Protest in Ankara, Turkey, May 14 over mine disaster in Soma, blaming government for disregard for safety. Banner says, “Government has to resign. What happened in Soma is not an accident, it was murder.” Protester is writing “murder” with a piece of coal.|
Most of the miners died from carbon monoxide poisoning after an explosion and fire at a power distribution unit in the mine. The mine employed nearly 800 workers.
Workers and students across Turkey responded immediately.
“We extend the actions that are carried out in workplaces across Turkey today. At 9 a.m. on May 15 we are standing in silent homage for three minutes in all workplaces across Turkey. After three minutes we are initiating a work stoppage and marching to the Labor and Security Head Offices in the provinces,” said a May 14 statement from four unions, including the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions of Turkey (DISK) and the Confederation of Public Employees’ Trade Unions (KESK), two of the largest organizing miners, industrial workers and public employees.
According to DISK, the government has deployed hundreds of military troops and police forces to Soma and the nearby miners’ village of Eynes to head off protests.
In Ankara, some 800 students tried to march to the Energy Ministry May 14, but were stopped by cops with tear gas and water cannons.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan traveled to Soma, where he held a press conference May 14, saying for hundreds of years workers have died in the mines. “Take America with all of its technology and everything … 361 miners died there in 1907,” he said. “These accidents are things which are always happening.”
Erdogan was booed by protesters, who called for the government to step down.
Erdogan needn’t have gone back to 1907 to find miners killed in the U.S. Eric Legg, 48, and Gary Hensley, 46, were killed May 12 in Wharton, West Virginia, in a coal outburst — a violent ejection of coal — during especially dangerous retreat mining in Patriot Coal Corp.’s Brody mine, which has a long history of federal citations for serious safety violations.
Rockfall kills 2 miners in Ontario, where bosses keep pressing union
Report shows bosses, gov’t responsible for Texas blast
Steelworkers in Greece fight frame-up
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